Winter is Upon Us: Helping Our Homeless Neighbors

As we entered into the holiday season many of our homeless neighbors were able to enjoy either a holiday breakfast or holiday dinner at many locations around the city.  As we get closer to the holidays, the Indianapolis community is bracing for our winter months that lie ahead.  We are filling our snow blowers with gasoline, making sure our cold weather gear has been checked and is on par and that we have warm beverages to drink after the work of clearing our driveways and sidewalks.

Have you thought about what our homeless neighbors deal with as these same conditions bear down on them?  Whether our neighbors are living on the street or in a shelter, many of the same challenges may face them until spring.  Cold weather gear is being checked or in many cases, just sought out.  Stockpiles of non-perishable foods or snacks may be in the process of being gathered so that they can eat as they are on the go via the bus lines to and from their jobs or appointments.  Even a basic such as having water on hand is a critical item that many need to plan strategies around so that they can keep hydrated.

Many medical challenges also may present or persist through this time of year.  Frostbite can either still be in the process of treatment from last winter or may spring back as temperatures drop and warm weather gear and supplies become hard to find.  Trench foot is another condition that our homeless neighbors face as they have wet shoes, socks and feet without the relief of dry socks and shoes in sight.  HIP has Outreach team members that provide support and engagement to our homeless neighbors in conjunction with many partners in the community who form the Indianapolis Professional Blended Outreach Team.  These professionals provide compassionate care, support and relationship building along with basic needs to those that are living on the street.  During the winter months, a key tool is also the city shelters “Winter Contingency Plan” which provides overflow space for those who normally would not seek shelter so that they can have a warm place to sleep when the temperature drops below freezing.  This team is a critical part of the HealthNet Homeless Initiative Program’s strategy to engage our homeless neighbors and provide opportunities for them to gain support and services that they may need.

Below are items our teams are in need of to help those who are homeless. Please consider making a donation of any of the items listed below.  These donations will benefit our homeless neighbors directly as they prepare for winter.

  • Blankets
  • Socks
  • Coats
  • Hats/gloves/hand warmers
  • Water
  • Single serving, easy-to-open, nonperishable food items such as: sports drinks, juice boxes, Vienna sausages, beef sticks, puddings, fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, breakfast bars, instant coffee and individual servings of chips and nuts

You can also make a monetary donation online by visiting

HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program wishes everyone a wonderful and happy holiday season!

Post by Matt Holland

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